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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

282                             THE GAY GENIUS

are not dead look like ghosts." In Su's opinion, with the best help from
the government, it would take ten years for the districts to recover from
the disaster.  He pointed out that if the government had taken the
measures he had recommended, the expenses incurred would not hav$
been half as much as what was now required for relief. "These officialsN
were concerned only with saving money for the government and not
with saving the people for their Emperor,"  What about the sea oL
toiling humanity?

On May 16,1092, therefore, Su Tungpo took up this matter of forgive-
ness of debts again. In his own district, unlike the other officials, he
interpreted the imperial orders in his own light and forgave all cases
that could be covered by the edicts, while in doubtful cases where the
statutes were conflicting or unclear, he suspended the prosecution for a
year, pending the government's action. It was his belief that there was
no way to alleviate conditions and restore trade to normal unless th%
people's credit recovered. The outstanding debts with their multiplying
interest hung like a stone around the people's neck. By destroying the
people's credit, trade and commerce were paralysed. This was the root
of all the evils. He sent a five-thousand-word memorandum with
detailed proposals on what to do with the outstanding debts. There
were debts owed on account of sales of government properties, of
farmers' loans, of public granaries, of regular autumn and spring taxes,,
debts owed to the trade bureaus which had already been abolished,
and debts owed on failure to pay according to a decree ordering repay-
ment in ten semi-annual instalments. These, together with four other
kinds of debts covered in his Hangchow memorandum, made a total
of ten kinds of indebtedness about which the government had alrea^f
issued various orders from time to time for partial forgiveness. Su
Tungpo reviewed the whole situation and worked out detailed sugges-
tions. Finally he said:

"I served at Hangchow, and then at Yingchow, and now I am
serving at Yangchow. I have had therefore the opportunity to
observe personally the conditions of the people in three provinces.
They are all being crushed under the heavy burden of the old debts
and steadily impoverished. Half of the population have died or fled,
and the records of their debts are still on government files. Farmers*
and small business-men are all suffering, which in turn decreases the
government revenue. From my experience in the three provinces
covered, I can safely assume that the same is true of the entire
country.                     '

"When travelling from Yingchow to Yangchow, I passed the
various districts on the Huai River. Everywhere I went I saw a sea
of green wheat-fields. Leaving my official attendants, I went into the